Director’s Report – January 17, 2017

Click here for PDF version of report: January 17, 2017 Directors Report

Director’s Report –  January 17, 2017

Thank you to:

  • Betsy S, Jen H and Janelle M for their work with the lottery on January 10.  
  • Battle of the Books – all students, staff and parents.  To Janelle M and Maggie R for running the contest on Jan. 6


Aspen Academy achieves intellectual, social, and creative growth for all students.
Define ways to strengthen intellectual, creative, and social programming.
  • Action Plan Team meeting highlights.
  • Band Concert on December 8  – great work by Mr. Dan Leifermann and all the students for their performances. “The 5th grade band showed an amazing amount of talent for their first concert.  The MS band has improved by leaps and bounds and played their best concert ever!  Aspen should be very proud and we all need to offer kudos to Mr. Leifermann for creating a band program that is growing both in size and talent. “  Mrs. Julie Herman
  • We held our Battle of the Books Competition on Friday, January 6 from 2-3pm. Students came to the commons area and worked in teams to answer question about the 12 different books they had had the opportunity to read.  There was a lot of TENACITY shown to answer questions and clearly students met the HIGH EXPECTATIONS of participating in such an event. All the hard work and extra reading paid off.

The Winning team (getting an impressive 22 out of 28 questions right) is LIGHT PINK!  These team members are: Nosim A (3), Nick P (3), Jack H (3), Amaya M (4), Michelle S (4), Kylie M (5)
Take a moment to congratulate them and all their peers for hard work and dedication!

We will have out information to our winning team about the championship battle this week!

Thank you to all of you for your support of this program.  We hope to make it happen again next year!   Maggie and Janelle

Definition of, training for, and implementation of standards-based programming.
  • Action Plan Team goals to be highlighted in report to Board. Updated information for teaching staff will take place on January 16.  Next meeting is on February 17.
  • January is RE month.  It’s the month staff spends time REteaching routines, REteaching rules, REteaching expectations, REteaching THINK, and REviewing skills and items students have previously learned.  
Expand and strengthen data-driven instruction (DDI). The following information allows Aspen to assist students in their proper academic area and level of understanding to improve performance and learning of the student.

  • Cycle 2 of Title/TS has come to an end.  Here is a quick run down on the numbers.

We have 11 number of students continuing in reading

We have 9 numbers of students who tested out of reading

We have 13 number of students continuing in math.

We have 18 number of students who tested out of math.

  • Cycle 3 is looking this way as of right now:

7 new readers

2 returning to math from cycle 1

8 new math  PLUS 4th grade?

4 math questionables— will be talking with SPED and retesting the first week back after break.
Title ordered math intervention materials started us down a good point.  We are focusing more of our efforts in the young grades (kindergarten) for math and reading – catching students who are on the cusp of intervention.  Important to note the results following the next round of intervention – 6 weeks of use of the new math products.  The new readers added are all kindergartners – most who lacked preschool skills and need a boost of work with letters and sounds. One thing to keep focusing on with our SPED department is how to best help students test and following testing modifications in IEPs.  (Maggie R, Kristine K, John B)

Aspen Academy maintains enrollment through recruiting and retention.
Track attrition data and target retention strategies at key grades.
  • Breakdown by Betsy Simons in Google Drive Board Packet from last week, here are numbers as of 1-12-17

As of today our enrollment is 494.   K- 73,  1-68,  2-69,  3-68,  4-68,  5-63,  6-42,  7-26,  8-17

Final Lottery Numbers:

K- 88 Seats offered- 38 on wait list

1-      7 on wait list

2-      14 on wait list

3-      13 on wait list

4-      16 on wait list

5-      2 on wait list

6-      7 on wait list

7-      No applicants

8-      1 Seat offered- no wait list

Total of 186 Applicants

*Betsy is beginning to process the rest of the applications received after the December 16 cut off for the lottery

Identify and pursue marketing opportunities in the community.
  • Creative Graphics – selling proposition will be “Enriched learning for K through 8th grade, in a tuition-free public charter school that prepares your student for the next stage.”  The School Board and Marketing committee met to give input and insight, parent and staff feedback by use of surveys was utilized, there were several review meetings with Betsy and Mike to discuss the parameters with Creative Graphics and we hired Creative Graphics to utilize their expertise in getting to this point.
  • Evaluated other marketing opportunities and strategies within the community- creating a brochure to promote and educate families for prospective family tours, will include in welcome packet through Chamber in Savage and Prior Lake. Put in new development model homes and in City Halls. (Feb.-March)
Develop marketing materials for different audiences branding/marketing identity.
  • Betsy and I met with Mark S and Nakina from Creative Graphics to plan out marketing for the remainder of this school year and to look at the new website.  
  1. Creative Graphics will take care of the design and content and Betsy and I will see design proofs next week for a mailing to Kindergarten aged students and 6-8 grade aged students – mailing to just households with 4 & 5 year old children present, and households with 10 – 14 year old children present.
  2. The list counts are 3,262 for the 4-5 year olds, and 5,576 for the 10-14 year olds.  Total list count for hitting both groups = 8,838.  Total costs = $5,601.64 and within our budget.  We are also looking at creating a monthly Facebook/digital ad monthly to keep our name and new consistent throughout the year.
Aspen Academy develops and maintains strong student, parent, and community partnerships.
Develop and expand THINK-related programming.  
  • THINK -nothing to report this month.
Expand after-school programming options.
  • The MS Boys team played their first home game (Dec. 14) and won 47 to 28 against Cologne Academy. Way to go boys and Coach C!  Middle School Student Council also had a fun night. Students volunteered to drop off the first load of Toys for Tots at the Savage Police Station. As of last night, we have 182 toys! Still time to bring in any last minute donations Friday. Keep spreading the holiday cheer Aspen students!  Thanks to everyone that has helped and supported Aspen Activities.  Pictures in the Google Drive.
  • Donation by Active Solutions of $200 for PE equipment – thanks Pat Caldwell & crew
Increase parent involvement opportunities.
  • Apex Fun Run meeting on December 6 – Jammin Joe will lead the Apex Team.  Announcements will start going out in the next week regarding the info on the run.  Date for the run is January 26.  This event is the largest fundraiser Aspen Academy has and the details of the breakdown of how the funds will be distributed will be decided by the Admin Team and shared with staff, the ACC and Aspen community.  
Aspen Academy develops and retains a highly qualified staff and board.
Define criteria we look for in prospective employees / board members.
  • Aspen Academy is pleased to introduce Patricia (Patty) Ross who will be supporting students as a building and long-term substitute teacher. Patty long wanted to be an educator and after trying a career in social work decided to come back to her first love. She enjoys working with a variety of students and has helped develop a successful reading intervention program at a past school. Patty is flexible and friendly and we are excited to have her work with our students! Patty joined our team on December 19. Welcome Patty!
  • Moving of PE instructor Angela Lorenzen from .71 to .88 FTE.  She will now cover, as a permanent fix for FY17, our Eagle’s Nest aftercare program.  
  • Director – eval meetings with the 22 employees.  The meetings will occur in December – January, areas to cover include:  

1.  Discussion and thoughts on performance so far this year.

2.  Job description review – does it clearly and appropriately identify what each employee does.

3.  Compliments on strengths for the year and improvements to work on for the remainder of

    the school year.

4.  Review Team Feedback form from last year – create one for new employees who did not

    complete one last year.

Define training / support / coaching we will provide to employees / board members.
  • I will schedule in-School Board training for new Board members.  MSBA offers required School Board training.
  • Working with Jenny Pine, rep from Kraus – insurance for employees, on information to possibly offer Flex Benefits ($ for daycare, medical costs) for employees who wish to participate.  
Define professional standards we expect employees / board members to meet.
  • Title revisions submitted on Dec. 11, 2016 – once final review is approved, monies will be released.  I met with Rosalie Dehli on December 7 to go over final revision areas that included Parent Involvement Plan, Homeless Budget and Narrative, Highly Qualified Staff Narrative and Program Narrative. Grant signature page was then completed on Dec.12, 2016 for MDE review.
Aspen Academy practices exemplary financial and operational management.
The Finance Committee will meet at least quarterly and define reporting needed.
  • Set meetings for the year at January Board meeting.
Create / define / monitor organizational systems for clarity.
  • Finance – Mike P and I will meet on February 2 to look over staffing costs for FY18.

Friends of Education Reports Due:

  • January 3 – successful MARSS submission to MDE (thanks Betsy)
  • WBWF summary submitted to FoEduc and MDE
Implementation of Synergy across multiple operational areas.
  • In Synergy – Maggie and I have a phone meeting with David Kram (Synergy rep) on December 14. Notes taken from that discussion:
  1. Aspen does have a system for trying and attempting trial runs, but we need time to work with that system.  It was not clearly advertised by TIES, but it is a key to moving forward.
  2. Training is going to take time – on both sides.  We need to make every training opportunity available and learn more so that we can start to appreciate and utilize the tools offered by Synergy.
OTHER – Strategic Planning
Information to report not otherwise included in Strategic Plan.
  • Set Board committee meetings for the year at January Board meeting. I would like for the Board Committee Chairs to pre-set meetings in January for the year to allow staff and community to plan and hopefully build involvement.  
  • My Director’s Report will go onto the website under a Director’s Page the week after the Board meeting so all staff and community can view. The December report will be on the new site once opened and this will continue each month.
  • MSBA Conference/Workshop on January 12-13
  1. Main speaker on January 12 – Alan Blankstein.  January 13 – Alan Page
  1. Concentrated talk on six principles of courageous leadership.  Look at what you can do, not what you can not.  
  2. Equity needed (does not mean all get the same, but getting what each student needs) as we grow more diverse – largest growing subgroup is homeless. Take a look at our changing diversity.  
  3. What are the real needs of students to truly educate them – over testing and technology is not the answer.  Role of leaders – work with stakeholders to create conditions for success. Make sure our policies do not punish but search for why?  And work to help the student succeed.
  4. One idea – make the first class more of an active class and create more of a want to be there, allows late students to transition in and gets them there (no missing of academics also)
  5. Do not assume a person reflects the setting we put them in, a bias by association.  Whether it is culture, color, race, sex, or any subgroup.  Take the bias implicit test for fun to see what we hold as our bias.  
  6. What systems do we have in place to really know who the student is?  Identify for all – teacher, principal, etc.  Remember, social skills are more indicative of success later than academic skills.
  7. Question – what distractions to serving all of our students are we experiencing? What can be done about them?

II.  Breakout sessions

  1. Colouring Outside the Lines – some of the processes used upon growth of a school.
  2. A Scorecard that recognizes all the important work of schools beyond test scores – collective evidence measuring progress past the test scores.
  3. Supporting students success in an electronic era – media specialists and their role in student success.  
  • Dear Superintendent:

I write to notify you that the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) for the 2015-16 school year will open for data submissions beginning on January 17, 2017 for state educational agencies (SEAs) and on February 6, 2017, for public school districts and other local educational agencies (LEAs). Every public school district in the nation will participate in this survey from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Your district’s submission of accurate and complete data is both mandatory and critical to OCR’s mission to ensure equal educational opportunity for all students.[1]  

Sincerely, Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

Director  – Expansion project

  • Meeting dates include:
  • Construction meeting on January 9 – see document in google drive for notes on latest meeting and progress.
  • Kitchen area meeting on January 9 (Diane H, Vicki R, Mike M, Scott T, Kou V) – Diane and Vicki will be visiting a few other charter schools to look at setups and movement within kitchen/eating area to help fine tune set up of Aspen’s kitchen area.
  • IT/Tech/Safety meeting on January 4 (Matt B, Nick A, Mike M, Kelly S, Scott T, Kou V) – talked through low-voltage areas of the building to ensure proper power and hookups for SmartBoards, computers, specialists rooms, etc.



December 2016 Director’s Report


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14825 Zinran Avenue
Savage, MN 55378

Phone: (952) 226-5940
Fax: (952) 226-5949